A Suite Opportunity
Hilton Continues Canadian Expansion With Dual-Branded Opening In Toronto
Wednesday, July 03, 2019
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While the southern border of the U.S. is often the topic of conversation these days, at least politically speaking, Hilton is focusing heavily on our neighbor to the north, Canada, as a key area of expansion for its all-suites brands.
The company recently opened the Home2 Suites by Hilton Brampton Toronto as the first property for the extended-stay brand in the Toronto area, which the company has identified as a burgeoning area within Canada. The 220-room dual-branded hotel--which also includes the Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Brampton West--was developed and is managed by JM Hospitality, Inc.
The new Home2 Suites joins five of its all-suites sister brands--which include the Embassy Suites by Hilton and Homewood Suites by Hilton flags--in the region, as well as two additional properties in the pipeline. The city of Toronto experienced record breaking tourism levels in 2018 welcoming some 44 million visitors.
Adrian Kurre, global head of Home2 Suites by Hilton, touted the new property as well as the market.
“They built a spectacular dual-branded hotel. There is extended-stay business within that marketplace and we’re really looking forward to driving the extended stay on the Home2 [Suites] side while maximizing leisure business on the [Hilton] Garden Inn side. It’s a perfect scenario for Home2. Toronto is a wonderful market with lots of Canadian tourism coming in from all over the world, especially from the U.S. It’s just a really solid market and when people go up into that area they spend more than two days,” he said.
Kurre also acknowledged the benefits of a positive conversion rate for U.S. travelers visiting Canada while noting that the Canadian market performed particularly well in 2018 with RevPAR and ADR growth of approximately 4.5 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.
He added the new property is expected to reap some of the benefits. “Specifically the ownership group and the general manager said to me that that is an advantage for them right now. I think that there are numbers that are very positive. In 2018, they [Canada] showed better results than what we did in the U.S. and those trends have continued so far this year,” he said.
Kurre characterized the ramp-up for the new hotel as “very typical” noting it is expected to be “within our brand” around the 7-month mark. He further commented, “The Hilton engine works really well...What we’re very focused on now as we open up is maximizing the Hilton effect,” he said, adding that the hotel encourages each guest that comes through different reservation systems or OTAs to become HHonors members and book directly through Hilton going forward.
Hilton as a whole now has more than 30 properties in Canada. The new Home2 Suites bolsters the company’s all-suites presence within the Toronto market, which last year saw the addition of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Toronto Airport. The full-service brand also added the Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal Airport last year, effectively doubling its presence in Canada to go along with the Embassy Suites by Hilton Niagara Falls – Fallsview property as well as the brand’s downtown Montreal hotel.
Alan Roberts, global head of Embassy Suites by Hilton, talked about the expansion of the brand specifically as it relates to the major airport locations. “It’s introducing us to those travelers in Canada traveling to other points in Canada. And it’s beginning to build awareness of the brand, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen with this brand. So hopefully they’ll be more of that type of conversion opportunity down the road,” he said.
Roberts specifically mentioned a couple of possible locations for expansion, such as Alberta and Vancouver, for example, as he further touted the potential of the Canadian market.
“The opportunity that we have across Canada is very broad. A couple of years ago 6 percent of the total inventory in Canada was all-suites hotels and because of new openings in the last couple of years that has actually been reduced to 4 percent. So the market is wide open for this category in and across Canada because of that...I thought that was an astounding number,” he said.
In addition to growing north of the border, Kurre pointed out the Home2 Suites brand has tweaked its breakfast program. “We’re very focused on improving the breakfast experience and so we are rolling out a different way to do our breakfast,” he said.
Kurre noted the brand has changed the way it prepares its signature breakfast sandwiches by keeping them warm in a display oven as opposed to having them refrigerated where guests would heat them in a microwave. The change has had the effect of not only reducing lines but also eliminating the temptation for guests to bring multiple sandwiches back to their rooms, according to Kurre. “The actual costs go down, the product quality goes up and the experience goes up. So it’s a rather simple solution for us,” he said.
Kurre also noted the company’s Canadian hotels are “very actively” participating in Hilton’s Clean the World Challenge. As part of the program, the company repurposes bars of soap and sends them to areas of the world that don’t have access to cleaning supplies. Kurre noted the company has already reached its initial goal of 1 million bars of soap for the year and has doubled that goal to 2 million.